We stood together with eager anticipation, a palpable electricity among us. Over fifty women from all walks of life, gathered around the indoor swimming pool in Albuquerque, NM, which was about to become our mikveh. The rabbi with us skillfully crafted our spiritual space, igniting our hearts with awareness of this ancient ritual of which we were about to take part. She created the safest and holiest of spaces, elevating the moment for us to see each and every one of us as b’tzelem Elohim, made in the image of God.
In silence, we had the option of removing our clothes and jewelry. In my first moments of seeing this multi-generational group of disrobed Jewish women standing together, I saw an image from Auschwitz redeemed. Here we stood, strong, united and free, affirming our tradition and our identity with the Jewish people and communing with the presence of Holiness.
Here we were, celebrating life, our femininity, and connection with God. In unison we sang out the words…
Woman am I
Spirit am I
I am the Infinite within my soul
I have no beginning and I have no end.
All this I am
…and entered the waters with our partners. Paired together, we were dear friends, sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and granddaughters, and new acquaintances. The waters splashed with soulful movement, as partners witnessed one another’s sacred immersions and shared hugs in celebration.
Fifty Jewish women from around the world, of all shapes, sizes and ages…In that moment, we united as family and as children of God.
Julie Dean is a facilitator of Mussar and leader of the Women’s Spirituality Group at Mount Zion Temple in St. Paul, MN. She has a passion for Jewish spirituality and mindful parenting. Julie actively participates in the Aleph Kallah and always looks forward to the inspiring group mikveh experience.